September 12, 2019 / 10:20 AM / 7 days ago

UK PM Johnson denies lying to Queen Elizabeth over the suspension of parliament

FILE PHOTO - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts his hand up to answer a question as he attends a year four history class with pupils during a visit to Pimlico Primary school in London, Britain, September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied lying to Queen Elizabeth over the reasons for suspending parliament for five weeks after a court ruled his decision to do so was unlawful.

Parliament was prorogued - suspended - on Monday until Oct. 14, a move opposition lawmakers argued was designed to thwart their attempts to scrutinize his plans for leaving the European Union and to allow him to push through a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

Scotland’s highest court of appeal ruled on Wednesday that the suspension was not lawful and was intended to stymie lawmakers, prompting Johnson’s opponents to accuse him of lying to the queen as to the reasons for the suspension.

Johnson said on Thursday those claims were “absolutely not” true.

With seven weeks to go, the government and parliament are locked in conflict over the future of Brexit, with possible outcomes ranging from leaving without a deal to another referendum.

Johnson said the government is waiting to hear an appeal next week against the Scottish court ruling by the Supreme Court, the United Kingdom’s highest judicial body, and he respected the independence of the judges.

“I’m not going to quarrel or criticize the judges,” he told reporters. “It’s very important that we respect the independence of the judiciary. They are learned people.”

He said he was hopeful the government would reach a divorce deal with the EU next month.

“I’ve been around the European capitals talking to our friends - I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you could do it,” he said. “It will be hard, but I think we can get there.”

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and William James; editing by Stephen Addison

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